Bento Boxes? Other Lunchbox Choices?

Updated on August 30, 2010
D.H. asks from Henrico, VA
18 answers

Hello Ladies,
With school approaching I was thinking of investing in some different lunch boxes. I'm a bit tired of using a TON of ziplock bags every day - three kids, and it seems everything I put in them is in a baggie, because I buy in bulk and repackage. Do you have any systems that you like? I want easy to clean, and something that will keep the stuff from getting smooshed! I'd even pack their milk for lunch if it was easy and could be kept cold.

They always get a sandwich on wheat bread, so one of the containers must accommodate a sandwich. The bento boxes I started looking at did not appear to have a container large enough - which seems really silly to me. Maybe I just didnt look long enough. The other containers don't matter too much - carrots, cherry tomatoes, pretzels, cut up apple - those things will fit most anywhere.



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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm loving the look/features of the "Planetbox". I don't like washing dishes, and having one solid piece to rinse out each day instead of 4 different containers and lids (x 3 kids) is a real plus to me. They are pricey though - have any of you actually used them? Do they keep the food separated well? Thanks Again for the suggestions.

I took a chance and ordered the "Planetbox" x3 - ouch expensive! I'll be sure to update once we get them and try them out!

9/27 update - We love them. We've used them everyday for 2-3 weeks now. Its faster to prepare the lunches and I havent used a single zip-lock bag in their lunchboxes since. I do have to make sure I wash them and let them air-dry each night, where before I used to just throw all the baggies in the trash, but it doesnt take much time/effort to do that, and its just three things, not a bunch of containers with lids. The kids like them as well. I do wish the cases for them were just a little bigger, I only have one slim ice pack that fits inside, and although I do manage to fit a milk on the inside, and a juicebox in the holder on the outside of the case, its a pretty tight fit. If my kids wait in line to buy their milk they don't have time to eat their lunch! So I try to pack a milk for lunch and juice for snack time. So far no trouble with slightly wet foods spilling into other sections, we've packed pickles, cut kiwi, cut up apples (with a little lemon juice), and grapes and strawberries. Not very juicy stuff and its been fine. Happy with my investment. One more thing - with the wheat bread I buy I do have to cut some of the crust off the sandwich so it will fit. My boys prefer it that way and I feed the crusts to our chickens, so I'm living with that.

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answers from Washington DC on Goodbyn Lunchboxes

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answers from Washington DC on

I read that you have selected a system. In case you want to check out others. Look @ Laptop lunches. They offer a great selection. Plus they are BPA free plastic. They have a thermos and and cover for the system.
They can be found locally.
Hope that helps.

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answers from Hartford on

I did not see your original post and I have not used Planetbox, but I have used all-in-one type containers like it. While it is cute and convenient to buy a bento set or all-in-one, I have not found either to be great for school. Your kids might be different and perhaps the all-in-one style I had was not great, but something to consider is that if you pack something more strongly scented than other items, everything will smell like it (tuna fish, liverwurst, eggs,....) or if you have something really moist it can make chips or cookies soggy. Also, I over pack my son's lunch so he can have a little selection at lunch. As such, I was always throwing food away from the all-in-one. I currently use a regular insulated lunchbox of his choosing (last year it was a cool retro tin lunchbox) with several individual plastic/stainless containers of various sizes. This way, if he does not eat his chips or fruit one day, I simply put the unopened container in the lunch again the next day. I know the individual stuff seems like more work, but in the end it seemed to be just a little more effort than the single piece. In any case, it would be great to have a follow-up on what you chose and how you liked it.

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answers from Victoria on

I see you asked a couple more questions. What about using zipploc baggies for carrots or other fruit/veggies. I have even seen some reusable ones on not sure if you can wash them in the dishwasher or not. but worth the look. my kids arent old enough but i bought a few cute containers for the hubbys lunches...he never remembers to bring them home!!!

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answers from Chicago on

check out keyword reusable sandwich bag, or sandwich bag. You'll find a bunch of them. Basically they replace a baggie with an interior that can be wiped out. Eco friendly and handmade.



answers from Austin on

Do a search on amazon. I found a bunch of cute bento boxes on there. Another alternative is to just purchase some small containers and water bottles.



answers from Sacramento on

I invested in Lock N Lock. My grocery store was running a special on them at the time and they are great. I just bought several different sizes and sets. I used them for my son and myeself. Then I just put them in his lunch box, and in my lunch bag.

Here are some at Amazon...they have other sizes and sets:



answers from Charlotte on

Yeah, bento boxes don't hold much because the concept is Japanese. The Japanese bento boxes have little pieces of meat, some rice, pickles, and other small portioned foods in the compartments. It's a cultural norm in the way the Japanese eat. They don't eat 'western style' quantities. Even their sandwiches are cut in small strips. (I lived in Japan for 6 years, and LOVE the food. But it's really different from what Americans are used to.)

I used to use so many little ziplock baggies to pack my kids' lunches too, D.. It worked better for me than anything else. I bought lunch boxes from Costco that were well insulated with a strap for the kids to hold, and plenty of room without being too big. The best one I found had an inner shell that could be taken out and washed so that it didn't stink. That also helped the food in the baggies keep from being squashed.

I included little rounded cups with lids for pudding, jello or cut-up strawberries. They fit in the lunchboxes very well, along with a small frozen bag to keep it cold.



answers from Washington DC on

My son has the LLBean Lunchbox. It has a lot of usable space, holds a lot but still not too big and still squishes to fit in his backpack or can attach it to a backpack if I want. Target has these really nice little plastic sandwich containers for the sandwiches. And I know this sounds cheap but I don't buy the other containers but you know the containers for sides that come from Boston Market or Chicken out I reuse those. The bigger ones are a perfect size for like a serving of chips or cut up fruit (apples, strawberries, peppers) and the smaller ones are good for small fruit like grapes and stuff and dry cereal. They are diswasher safe, microwaveable, and many times reuseable and the lid is perfectly easy to open. I shop Costco and always shop in bulk too and this works perfectly. Oh, and the LLBean lunchbox you can put in the washing machine and still looks great. Done it twice because he's left his lunchbox at school over holiday weekends with stuff going bad and i couldn't get the stench out. LOL. But it usually just wipes down nicely with a rag. I also put a thermos with milk in it for lunch too and its stays cool, not fridge cold but cool enough so he still likes it.



answers from Erie on

i like your idea, ziplocs drive me nuts. I would be concerned about cleaning the little corners of a bento type box. or do you just put dry stuff in there? i used a special sandwich box last year and small tiny tupperware thing that worked pretty good but i would really like a second set so that if something happened and it didn't get washed we weren't scrambling.



answers from Richmond on

I use the pottery barn kids containers. Sadly, they do not go in the dishwasher but if you bought a few days' worth, you would have to wash them all only once every few days (hmmm.... wish I had thought of that before now.)


answers from San Francisco on

A bento box would work if you cut up the sandwich and split it amongst compartments.


answers from Huntsville on

I haven't looked for these things yet, but have you looked at Tupperware? I know my mom always had Tupperware containers. They have some for sandwiches. I'm sure they have lunch sets for kids!



answers from Dallas on

I absolutely love the Easy Lunch Box system . They are so easy to use, and the insulated carrier that comes with the set is a really nice size. My son and I both use the lunch boxes. I would say the best feature is the fact that you get a set of 4 containers, so you're not washing every day.

The Easy Lunch Box container has a sandwich sized area, and two smaller areas for crackers/pretzels/chips or cut up veggies and fruits.

I highly recommend this system!



answers from Shreveport on

um, anxious to see answers



answers from Augusta on

I use a sandwich box thing I found in the dollar section at target.
and put it in my daughter's normal lunch box.
There are containers now that have little frozen ice packs that attaches to the lid to keep fruits and veggies cold.
I don't think you really need a special order lunch box , just look in the plastic container section, right there by the lunch bags.

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